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9/17/13 at 10:28 AM 5 Comments

What He Could Have Been

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Photo: Flickr/Gerry Dincher - Creative Commons

I often use this blog as a place to think through questions that have been perplexing me or ideas that just need some reflection. I don’t really know what I think or what I believe until I have processed it through the written word. For a few weeks now I have had a note in front of me saying, “see evidence of God’s grace in what that person could have been.” That’s weird, I know, so let me explain.

I've explained before that at Grace Fellowship Church we have tried to be deliberate in developing a culture of encouragement rather than discouragement, of pointing more to evidences of God's grace in one another than in the too-obvious evidences of human depravity. We succeed better at some times than others and find this an area that requires constant rekindling. Still, we trust that this church community remains an encouraging place to be and a place where we actively look for grace.

I have been reflecting recently that some of the greatest evidences of God's grace in the life of the Christian are the things that person could be or inevitably would be without the active presence of the Holy Spirit and without a commitment to the pursuit of holiness. Sometimes we see evidences of God's grace in what a person is or has become; sometimes we see evidences of God's grace in what that person would otherwise be.

I think of the young man who was raised with very few advantages, whose family has seen generations of addiction and failure, and yet who has been saved by grace and has become the one exception. Literally, the one exception. Of all the things he could be, he has chosen instead to be a Christian and to live like one. And it shows.

I think of the woman who grew up as part of a broken family and who was once convinced that she, too, could only fail at marriage. And yet by God's grace she has endured difficult times, has built stability into her marriage, and has one of those God-glorifying, Christ-displaying marriages that will last till death parts them.

I think of the woman who could be advancing in a good and exciting career, who has the education, the skills, the experience, and the motivation--everything she would need and everything so many others do not have. And yet she is more committed to her family and to investing in her children while they are young, and for the time being she is content not to pursue that career. She could be a great success in the world of business, but instead has chosen to pursue a different kind of success.

I think of the man who could easily be anchoring a surgical team at a major hospital and earning the kind of money most of us don't even allow ourselves to dream about. But instead he is using his medical skills on the mission field, living on little more than minimum wage, and storing up treasures in heaven. Of all the things he could do and all the honors he could have, he chooses to be a missionary.

I have met each of these people, mostly as I have traveled. I have met them and seen God's grace in what they are and in what they could otherwise be.

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